Interview With Endorphina CEO Jan Urbanec
Endorphina is a leading developer of online slots. The company’s team of skilled and experienced professionals designs slots that blend dazzling design with brilliant math to create a thrilling gaming experience.
Endorphina has won multiple awards, including the Entertainment Arena Expo’s Product of the Year Award, 2015 Reader’s Choice Slot for The Ninja and Satoshi’s Secret from Slots Guide, and Slots Guide’s Best Online Slot Developer Award for 2015.
To find out how the company keeps creating such great games, Slotegrator interviewed Endorphina CEO Jan Urbanec. He told us about the story of Endorphina, the company’s creative process, some promotional strategies, and his personal opinions on slots.
The story of the company
S: How have your slots been changing over your career? What is different in terms of features, storylines, creation process?
JU: We had a learning curve. However, the values of our games stay the same. We reward players that can wait for a win. We are proud of the decisions in design that we made at the beginning of our game creation, especially when it comes to the design choices that were adopted by the industry and became a standard.
S: How has the gambling market changed and developed since you entered the online casino industry? What are the main differences you can name?
JU: The gambling market has changed a bit, yes. We lived through the rise and dominance of mobile gaming. We saw the rise and fall of VR gaming. There are some new trends in games marketing. But the core of gambling is the same. People’s mentality overall did not change dramatically. They still want to play.
S: Why did your company decide to focus on slots? Do you plan to introduce other types of games in the future and why?
JU: Slots are our bread and butter – we know them, we understand them. We are looking to expand our portfolio with table games and maybe a gamification project is rising up.
But we will stay true to our main calling – creating hit slot games.
S: What are your plans for future development?
JU: Improving our product to a level that is hard to match by our competitors and developing a unique promotional tool that customers will demand and require. We want to gain the hearts of our players.
Slotegrator: How do you come up with slot topics and storylines?
Jan Urbanec: We love having a balanced portfolio with different game themes. Any input from inside our team or from outside of the company, like a player's suggestions, is always worth exploring.
We then try to fit the theme to a gameplay and math model and test how it fits together.If we feel that it is a match – a concept is born.
S: Do some current trends inspire you or do you prefer to stick to classics while creating slots?
JU: Slot game themes can either be very innovative or a pure classic. A classic theme has something to do with a culture or country such as Egypt, Japan, or Native Americans. Sometimes it can also be connected to a treasure, adventure or simply a fruit-themed slot. We love to take these themes and deliver them in a modern and revamped format, without taking the magic out of them. Our Lucky Streak series is proof that we know how to do this.
On the other hand, we are known for coming up with very innovative ideas and industry firsts such as Satoshi’s Secret, Twerk, and Taboo. These games are complete originals, introduced to the market for the first time by Endorphina.
S: How often do game developers need to release games to stay successful?
JU: I will give you an answer with a spin. We release as often as we can deliver a relevant and top-quality product. As Shigeru Miyamoto says, “A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.”
S: Give tips to beginners in slot creation. How should they start and what are the aspects to keep in mind?
JU: If you want me to give you a proper answer, I will have to charge you for a consultation.
But seriously now – the most important thing is your team. Start with collecting top talent.
S: Share the stages of slot creation. What do you start with and what are the main steps during the process?
JU: There can be a “cookie-cutter” process. A formula that you can stick to every time to deliver the same kind of product. But that is not the magic of slot design. Usually, there is something at the beginning, a math model, a theme, a mechanic you want to use. That is the starting point, then you keep adding and adapting. Sometimes you have to put games on the backburner, to just let them sit for a while. And let then just wait for their time to come, even though sometimes it may never come. Our team is full of talent and sometimes only the best out of the best ideas are able to rise above the rest.
S: How do you create a slot that will appeal to both beginning players and high rollers?
JU: Thank you for asking me this question, this means that you know we have the answer!
To be honest, I believe that in both cases there needs to be simplicity and clarity of design. The player needs to understand what is happening in the game at all times.
If a beginner is confused, he may understand eventually what is going on and “forgive” your mistakes and return once he understands the game mechanics.
But if a high roller feels cheated – he will blacklist your game and maybe your whole company in his head. And then you’ll need a lot more than good luck to get this player back on your slots!
S: What are your strategies to inspire new gamblers to play your slots?
JU: Make our games visible! This is achieved by providing a high-level service to our customers that communicate with the players directly.
Also, our marketing department does a great job of promoting new releases relentlessly.
And the obvious part is that we have to make appealing games. Players actively search for good games. Content is king.
S: What are your game advertising tools and how do you promote new slots?
JU: We have unique bonus money and a free spin solution that gives operators incredible freedom in awarding the bonus money to players that play on Endorphina slots.
This tool is designed as the first truly seamless bonusing system that gives an incredible amount of control to the operator.
S: What should the slot have, so that the player will choose it among all the other ones?
JU: The game needs to be appealing from the moment the player sees the icon. Graphics play a huge role in the player’s first impulses to launch or not launch a game.
Then the splash screen and the first look of the reels and UI – those moments either instantly convince the player he made a good choice, or not.
S: Do you think it is better to invent new features or to provide popular ones to make a slot attractive?
JU: The short answer is both. We touched this topic a bit earlier. If you stay stagnant, play it safe, and keep using “popular” features, then you will eventually get run over by the competitors that take risks. But if you go overboard every time with new features, players will get the feeling they don’t understand what is going on. And we are back in the situation discussed in the question of a player’s trust.
S: How successful are tournaments as a marketing tool?
JU: From Endorphina’s point of view, tournaments bring a lot of attention and depending on the audience of the casino, this can have a big impact on the end of the month’s total bet. However, players are picky and once tournaments are available everywhere, they will demand more innovation.
Whoever comes with that engagement tool first will have a huge advantage in the market.
S: How does the promotion of your brand at industry events (B2B) affect the promotion of your product to the end consumer (B2C)?
JU: Most of the players do not care at all who appear at what event and what is promoted there. They have a different source of information – forums, affiliate websites, review websites, streamers. However, these sources are connected to the B2B aspect of the industry and will influence the player. So at the end of the day, the information will get to the player, but it will be filtered via one of the channels of his choice.
A personal note
S: Which slot topics and storylines are the most popular among players?
JU: There is no surprising answer here – fruits, Egypt and treasure hunt themes.
S: How do you think a slot’s name influences its popularity?
JU: It does from some point. Imagine that you come up with the wittiest, original and SEO-friendly slot name ever. If the game is not good in terms of gameplay, it will not help you. Players have to choose the games. However, at that point, the slot needs to have a catchy and simple name, for the players to talk about it. But even if your game has some long and complicated name, as long as the players like it, they will rename the game or create an abbreviation.
Even short and simple names of games are renamed by players if they are in a playful mood. Our Twerk game was nicknamed by players in-stream chats to “Asses.” Our Minotaurus slot has been nicknamed “Beef.”
S: Name the components of the ideal slot, in your opinion.
JU: High volatility math and an unlimited maximum bet. And of course, an operator that can handle proper wins!
S: What is your most favorite slot from all the existing ones?
JU: My personal favorite and a hidden gem in our portfolio is Durga – it has amazing art, sound and light effects. The game potential is very nice and experienced players can appreciate the gameplay mechanics.
S: Why do you think slots are so popular among gamblers?
JU: The entertainment value and abdication of responsibility. The only decision that you have to make when playing is how much you want to wager. Then you roll the dice – I mean, ask the RNG gods for a very nice combination.
S: What is your opinion on the potential of VR in online gambling? Could there be a demand for VR slots?
JU: The technology is bulky and not convenient. We are not there yet for slots to be enjoyable in VR. But perhaps in time, things could be different.
S: If it wasn’t for the online gambling industry – what other job would you imagine yourself doing (perhaps your childhood dream job?)
JU: I would be a survival expert, living in the heat of the South American jungle for one half of the year while living the second half in the deep North of Canada. I’d be teaching and sharing my hard-earned skills to a range of people – from military guys to tourists trying to have a good time.